This sword stand was used at the time of sankin-kôtai(参勤交代). Sankin-kôtaiwas a policy of the Tokugawa Shogunate established by the 3rdShogun Iemitsu in 1634 and was in force during most of the Edo period of Japanese history.
All Daimyo were forced to maintain a residence in Edo and use that residence on alternative years. Their wife and heir were required to live in the Edo residence as virtual hostages. The Daimyo were required to travel back and forth between their home provinces and their homes in Edo annually.The details changed throughout the 26 decades of Tokugawa rule, but generally, the requirement was that the daimyō of every han move periodically between Edo and his fief, typically spending alternate years in each place. His wife and heir were required to remain in Edo as hostages while he was away.
The expenditures necessary to maintain lavish residences in both places, and for the procession to and from Edo, placed financial strains on the daimyo, making them unable to wage war. The frequent travel of the daimyo encouraged road building and the construction of inns and facilities along the routes, generating economic activity.
There were a number of exceptions for certain fudai daimyō in the vicinity of Edo, who were allowed to alternate their attendance in Edo every six months instead. Temporary exceptional dispensations were also occasionally granted due to illness or extreme extenuating circumstances.
In principle, the sankin-kōtai was a military service to the shogun. Each daimyō was required to furnish a number of soldiers (samurai) in accordance with the kokudaka assessment of his domain. These soldiers accompanied the daimyō on the processions to and from Edo.
With hundreds of daimyō entering or leaving Edo each year, processions (大名行列 daimyō-gyōretsu) were almost daily occurrences in the shogunal capital. The main routes to the provinces were the kaidō. Special lodgings, the honjin (本陣,were available to daimyō during their travels.
This folding sword stand is made of the light but strong kiri wood. There is a design done in gold makie lacquer of ume trees and pine trees. There is also an Aoi-mon of the Tokugawa family showing that this stand was used by a Daimyo or high-ranking Samurai of one of the families related directly to the Shogunate.
It is 32 cm or 12.59 inches high by 47.5 cm or 18.7 inches wide. It comes in a custom made wooden storage box that is lined with old newspapers dated 1913. The dimensions of the box are 13.38 inches by 21.65 inches and 2.36 inches high.
This sword stand is completely collapsible and very light making it perfect for its purpose of use while traveling. It is a very unusual item and a great piece of history.